A survey shows marijuana use among Lampeter-Strasburg School District sophomores went up 5.5 percent from 2005 to 2007, school board member Scott Riekers said last week, and a district task force has come up with some possible methods of dealing with the issue.

At a May 5 board meeting, Riekers said marijuana use among sophomores in schools across Lancaster County increased an average of 1.1 percent during the same time frame, according to student surveys. Use remained level at schools across the state.

The surveys - cited from the 2007 Pennsylvania Youth Survey Report - were conducted by the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The task force also received data from the 2008 Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Twenty-six percent of L-S sophomores reported using marijuana at least once in the past 12 months, according to the district's Drug and Alcohol Task Force, of which Riekers is chairman.

Riekers said the task force did not reach any conclusions as to why illegal drug use is increasing in L-S more so than other districts.

"The L-S drug use numbers are certainly going the wrong way," he said, "but overall usage is not significantly different across the county."

The task force was formed to study drug issues in the district and to make recommendations to the board on such possible actions as random drug testing for students in grades six through 12 who participate in any extracurricular or cocurricular activity, a district sport, who apply for a parking permit or are enrolled in the program by their parents.

The committee also has recommended pre-employment drug screening as well as drug education for students and parents.

Board member Jeffrey Mills said he agrees with some of the task force recommendations, though he questioned the testing of middle school students.

"I am not as sold on testing sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders," he said.

The task force's research shows 33 suspensions or expulsions for drug or alcohol violations in the past four years, including a middle school student who was expelled for trying to sell marijuana at Martin Meylin Middle School.

One high school student, records show, was expelled for being drunk at school, while another was expelled for possessing marijuana and a pipe at school.

Under proposed task force recommendations, students found to have tested positive for illegal drug use would have two choices of consequences.

Should the offender enroll in a student assistance program, he or she would be allowed to participate in activity practices, but not games or events, for 30 days. Student assistance programs include intervention programs matched to the student's needs.

Students who do not enroll in the program would be completely excluded from their sports or activities for 60 calendar days.

A second offense would bar a student from extracurricular activities and athletics for a year. A third offense would bar a student for three years.

One provision included opening a new position for a school resource officer. Riekers said having the position on the books would not mean the district would have to fill it.

Riekers also said a drug policy has proven effective in neighboring Solanco School District.

The board plans to consider the recommendations at its May and June meetings for possible adoption in the fall.

In other news, the board:

• Re-elected Riekers as its board treasurer for the 2009-2010 school year.

• Said the drug policy would be a major item on the agenda for its next workshop, slated for 7 p.m. Monday.

• Announced its next regularly scheduled board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26.

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